Entertainment :: Television

Vicious - Season One

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Jul 8, 2014
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If you’re looking for a gay version of "AbFab," sadly the Brit-com "Vicious" won’t fit the bill.

The series does have a few points in its favor, including the casting, which pairs Sir Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as Freddie and Stuart, a gay couple who have been together for 48... no, make that 49 years. Frances de la Tour plays a woman of similar years who, like Freddie and Stuart, has her eye fixed lustfully on a young upstairs neighbor named Ash (Iwan Rheon). Marcia Warren and Philip Voss round out the cast as Penelope and Mason; she’s on the verge of senile dementia, and he’s simply old and cranky.

The series starts off terrible, with tedious plots and jokes that veer from tepid to crass. By the end of Season One there’s some modest improvement, but, aside from a few inspired zingers, "Vicious" never rises above the limiting characterization of its title: It’s really all about how mean and nasty Freddie and Stuart can be to each other, and the jibes, while cutting, aren’t even clever. That said, there is one delicious moment in which Freddie has a chance to zing de la Tour’s cougarish character, Violet, with a line every gay couple has probably wanted, in a moment of outrage or frustration, to hurl at anti-marriage bigots: "Don’t compare your filthy relationships to ours." That single line rings truer than the occasional saccharine moments sprinkled throughout the season in which Freddie and Stuart drill beneath their fossilized crust of mutual contempt and dredge up expressions of love and support.

In addition to the six episodes of the regular season there’s a seventh installment, the Christmas special, which is simply more of the same uninspired, distasteful stuff. The only special feature included on the two-disc set is clearly labeled as such: "Special Feature: Interview with Cast and Crew" is a brief, rote promo spot that has the cast members talking about their characters and how "groundbreaking" the show is.

Based on the complete Season One, and its minimal improvement from start to finish, an optimistic guess would place the show as approaching something palatable right around Season Three.


"Vicious: Season One"
DVD
List Price: $29.99
www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35447026&cp=&sr=1&kw=vicious&origkw=vicious&parentPage=search&searchId=2883323

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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